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Explorers of the Pacific: European and American Discoveries in Polynesia

British Navigators, 1780 to 1800

British Navigators, 1780 to 1800

At the end of Cook's third voyage in 1780, the only important Polynesian islands remaining to be discovered were the Mangarevan (Gambier) Islands, the northern islands of the Marquesas, and a few individual islands in the page 35Cook and Tuamotu groups. The subsequent voyages discovered most of these additional islands and served as a check on the latitudes and longitudes given by the original discoverers. They also confirmed and added to the information regarding the inhabitants of the islands visited. It seems advisable at this point to depart from the strictly chronological sequence of the voyages and deal with the explorers in national groups in order to indicate the navigating activities of the various countries concerned. Commencing with the British, the dates, commanders, ships, and islands visited, are given in the following list. The few new discoveries are in capitals and small capitals.

Date Commander Ships Islands
1785-1788 Portlock, Nathaniel King George Hawaii
1785-1788 Dixon, George Queen Charlotte Hawaii
1786-1787 Meares, John Nootka and Sea Otter Hawaii
1787-1788 Watts, John Lady Penrhyn Kermadecs, Tahiti, Tongareva
1787-1789 Bligh, William Bounty Society, Aitutaki, Tonga
1788-1789 Meares, John Felice and Iphigenia Hawaii
1789 Mortimer, George Mercury Society, Hawaii
1790-1791 Edwards, Edward Pandora Society, Tuamotu, Tonga, Samoa, Tokelau
1791-1795 Vancouver, George Discovery and Chatham Society, Rapa, Marquesas, Hawaii, Chatham
1791-1793 Bligh, William Providence and Assistant Society, Aitutaki, Tuamotu
1795-1798 Broughton, William Providence Society, Hawaii
1796-1798 Wilson, James Duff Mangareva, Tuamotu, Society, Tonga, Marquesas